Week 6

4. Discuss how Hill’s three characteristics of Cult TV can be applied to a recent TV series (including those on Netflix, etc)

According to Hills (2004), there are three factors that illustrates the definitions of cult TV. First, most cult TV series are based on the literatures. Most cult TV series share the same textual attributes, constructing detailed, fantastic and narrative worlds. This kind of constructed world is out of the reach of the audience, because it is beyond what is known on the screen. Cult TV can be distinguished by their expansive, expansive narrative worlds. Cult TV often define and develop magical existence through their own vast amount of detail over a long period of time. Through its repetition, familiarity and narrative iteration, fantasy takes on a daily quality. The transition from bizarre or extraordinary to ordinary is one of the keys to attracting an audience. In order to keep its wonderful fresh sense of wonder, cult TV series follow their own rules and norms. Thus, there is a delicate balance between establishing narrative continuity for the audience to enjoy, and breaking that continuity to maintain the audience’s interest. This kind of TV can also produce a kind of “serial memory”, which plays a role with unique narrative rules, providing the audience with narrative fun and making it easier for the audience to remember the TV series.

Second, cult TV series create in terms of inter-texts. Intertextuality activates the key meaning of the text, rather than trying to control reading. This suggests that audiences are interested not only in narrative discovery, but also in whether industrial economic and institutional factors prevent or undermine development. Intertextual synchrony also activates the specific relationship between the audience and the original text, and clarifies the standard for the reality of television programs. Intertextuality is useful. It sets the standard for television as a cult TV. This is necessary. Intertextuality defines cult TV through audience activity, media organization context, and textual attributes.

Third, fan audience affects cult TV’s creativity. The creation of cult TV is based on fan audience. Cult TV is important to the lifestyle and identity of its fans. Audience have a general role in cult TV. Cult TV in the United States, for example, can inspire speculation about a plot, support or inspire fan works. The audience has created a cult status in many aspects of television creation. The audience uses the word “cult” to reveal the uniqueness of the textual network. As time goes by, the audience is attracted by the cult TV, thus becoming fans. To keep fan groups unique, as a community, fan audience produce reviews, fan fiction, series guides, and production histories.

The three characteristics of cult TV have certain connection with current TV series. As for the TV series created in terms of the literature, Happy Planet is a good case to illustrate it. Happy planet is a children’s science fiction TV series in China. Happy planet used the content of the novel to create four TV series, the author of novel is Yang Peng (Yang Peng, 2019). Every TV series revolves around the main characters, the people in the happy planet, helping people on earth solve their difficulties and enlightening their psychological problems. At the same time, the people of happy planet have solved their own problems by helping earthlings (Happy Planet, 2019).


Happy Planet. (2019). Retrieved Aug 26, 2019, from: https://baike.baidu.com/item/%E5%BF%AB%E4%B9%90%E6%98%9F%E7%90%83/557313?fr=aladdin#5

Hills, M. (2004). Defining cult TV; Texts, inter-texts and fan audiences, in R. C. Allen & A. Hill (eds) The Television Studies Reader. London and New York: Routledge.

Yang Peng. (2019). Retrieved Aug 26, 2019, from: https://baike.baidu.com/item/%E6%9D%A8%E9%B9%8F/15313#3_1

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